BS”D Parashat Ki Tavo 5773
Part A: Devarim 26,16-19:
טז) היום הזה ה’ א-להיך מצוך לעשות את החקים האלה ואת המשפטים ושמרת ועשית אותם בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך:
יז) את ה’ האמרת היום להיות לך לא-להים וללכת בדרכיו ולשמר חקיו ומצותיו ומשפטיו ולשמע בקלו:
יח) וה’ האמירך היום להיות לו לעם סגלה כאשר דבר לך ולשמר כל מצותיו:
יט) ולתתך עליון על כל הגוים אשר עשה לתהלה ולשם ולתפארת ולהיתך עם קדש לה’ א-להיך כאשר דבר:
16 The Lord your God commands you this day to follow these decrees and laws; carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.
17 You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in obedience to Him, that you will keep His decrees, commands and laws that you will listen to Him.
18 And the Lord has declared this day that you are His people, His treasured possession as He promised, and that you are to keep all his commands.
19 He has declared that He will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations He has made and that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God, as He promised.
After leading the Jewish nation for 40 years, Moshe Rabbeinu is now in the closing days of his farewell soliloquy, for soon – on the 7th day of the next month of Adar – Moshe will climb Mount Nevo, from where he will ascend to the highest realms of heaven.
During these 40 years, Moshe and the Jewish people experienced unprecedented occurrences: the ten plagues, splitting of the Red Sea, receiving the Torah from the Almighty Himself at Mount Sinai, the Manna, Miriam’s Well, the defeat of the mighty Sichon and Og and other innumerable miracles.
Why then did Moshe say to the Jewish people: You have declared this day that the Lord is your God… And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people, etc? Haven’t the Jews been God’s “people” since the time of Avraham, or at least from the time we received the Torah at Mount Sinai? Why “This day”?
Life consists of objective facts, incidences, and intellectual knowledge. But it often takes an extraordinarily long time for an individual to internalize the changing realities of his life.
An example: A person completes his formal education (usually university). He then realizes that for the first time in his life he is no longer subject to the schedules dictated by others. The world is now open before him. He is on his own to sleep late in the morning or to change the world. It occurs again when one loses his last parent, and the realization that his feeling of being “the son of” will now be replaced with the realization that he is now the “head” of his family, with all its accompanying responsibilities.
For the past 40 years, the Jewish people were comfortable under the protective umbrella of Moshe Rabbeinu – their intimate link to the Almighty. Moshe taught them Torah. He was father, judge, peacemaker, general, and all else. He was the staff upon which every Jew leaned, and which afforded them the confidence necessary to exist in the harsh, barren desert for so long.
But now it was coming through to them that Moshe’s end is drawing near. That the great umbrella of Moshe will soon be gone and a smaller one will take its place. Yehoshua will lead them into Eretz Yisrael, where they will have to make war upon 31 city states for seven years, and during the following seven years each family will leave the commune of the twelve tribes and depart to the homestead allotted them by HaShem.
On that day, it sank into the nation’s consciousness that in another 14 years they will be “on their own,” free from the schedules and dictates of an acknowledged leader. They will no longer have the comforting feeling that their father figure, be it Moshe or Yehoshua, will solve all their problems.
One can be a citizen of a nation, either by birth or naturalization. It is his choice to empathize with his country or not to feel the national pulse by distancing himself from the challenges facing the nation.
On that day when Moshe said to the Jewish people, “You have declared this day that the Lord is your God”, Moshe saw that the people had finally internalized that HaShem took them out of Egypt in order for them to be His chosen nation. And when that realization came about Moshe informed the nation: “And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people”. He saw that it finally sank into the national consciousness that in order to survive they will have to join together as one nation, with “one for all and all for one”.
Sixty five years ago, Medinat Yisrael was established. But unfortunately our brothers and sisters in the galut and many here have not internalized that the Medina is the entity which will usher in the final redemption of our people. They refuse to identify with the revolution which our Father in Heaven has performed for us.
To be part of Am Yisrael today is to live in the land specified by HaShem for His chosen people. To speak the language of the Bible, and in the way 90% of Israelis do, not chassidish or litvish but pure Ivrit. To be partners in the hardships our people are going through in order to prove to HaShem how much we want to return home. To know the military history of this land prior to the Medina’s establishment, such as the names of the holy young men who were sent to the gallows in their fight to rid the land from the hated British. To know what yechida 101 (unit 101) means. The Altelena. The Lamed Heh (45 soldiers murdered on their way to aid Gush Etzion in the War of Independence). Golani, Bislach, Ramatkal, tironut and tirturim. To know the civics of the land; its Judiciary, Legislative and Executive branches.
In short to feel that this is your home and we are one family.
Just as HaShem creates human beings with a physical body and a spiritual soul, so has He created Am Yisrael with the physical land of Eretz Yisrael, upon which we are commanded to perform His mitzvot. He created our holy souls which become enriched and nourished by the fulfillment of those mitzvot in Eretz Yisrael. As in the words of the great Ramban, the mitzvot were given to be kept in Eretz Yisrael.
To be involved in keeping the mitzvot outside of the national collective, is like catching a floating cloud which has no substance.
This, at the onset, excludes anyone who does not live in the land of Israel, and even those who do, but do not have Israeli citizenship preferring to be on the periphery of society.
When I first arrived in Eretz Yisrael, I asked a great posek regarding the reciting of Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut. He answered in the wisest of ways: “It depends on how you feel. If you see the hand of HaShem behind all the episodes of the Medina, then you must say Hallel, if you don’t feel it then do not”.
I see the hand of HaShem every day and in every way.
The vast majority of our people here love the Medina. They are willing to make any and all sacrifices for the Medina’s welfare, security and development. Even those who do not observe all the mitzvot will tell you, privately, that what is transpiring here is the hand of God.
The unprecedented phenomena of a people keeping alive for 2000 years the dream of returning to their ancient homeland is a wonder which cannot be explained in human terms. That the Jewish people are so faithful to the Torah, and the desire even by people who are not observant to be Jewish, is a mystery.
It is so wondrous that even the Almighty is taken aback at the degree of faithfulness of His people, as stated by the prophet Zecharya (8,3-8):
ג) כה אמר ה’ שבתי אל ציון ושכנתי בתוך ירושלם ונקראה ירושלם עיר האמת והר ה’ צבאות הר הקדש:
ד) כה אמר ה’ צבאות עד ישבו זקנים וזקנות ברחבות ירושלם ואיש משענתו בידו מרב ימים:
ה) ורחבות העיר ימלאו ילדים וילדות משחקים ברחבתיה
ו) כה אמר ה’ צבאות כי יפלא בעיני שארית העם הזה בימים ההם גם בעיני יפלא נאם ה’ צבאות:
ז) כה אמר ה’ צבאות הנני מושיע את עמי מארץ מזרח ומארץ מבוא השמש:
ח) והבאתי אתם ושכנו בתוך ירושלם והיו לי לעם ואני אהיה להם לאלהים באמת ובצדקה:
3 This is what the Lord says: “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.”
4 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age.
5 The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.”
6 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?” declares the Lord Almighty.
7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west.
8 I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.”
Copyright © 5773/2013 Nachman Kahana